Jul 9, 2004 5:33am
sorry for the crossposting. i've submitted this to
the new media but no response.
Yesterday (July 8, 2004) I took the Internet Bookmobile to Walden Pond in
Concord, Mass. It was the 150th anniversary of H. D. Thoreau's book
"Walden." The Thoreau Society had a dawn to dusk reading.
After an hour of having readers print and take away free copies of "Walden,"
I was asked by the Walden Pond Reservation police to pack up and leave
and threatened with arrest. I left.
The park supervisor (Denise Morrissey, 978-369-3254) told me I could
not pass out free literature without a permit. And she would not give me
a permit because, as she explained, the state park gets money from a
concession by the Thoreau Society, which operates a store that sells
"Walden"--and I was competing with them by giving away free copies.
There is no place to park at Walden Pond except in the state parking
lot, for which I paid $5.
Integral to the Internet Bookmobile concept is showing citizens how
we can become our own publishers by means of the free Internet and
new print-on-demand technology. It is not just giving away free
books--readers actually learn how to make the books themselves.
It promotes the sharing ethos of the Internet and free culture and
therefore is a threat to the established publishing industry and the
media giants that control our culture. The Internet Bookmobile is
sponsored by the Internet Archive and Anywhere Books. The driver
of this Bookmobile is Eric Eldred, who took a suit against the
Copyright Extension Act to the Supreme Court and lost to the big
Evidently members of the Thoreau Society, charged with his legacy,
are now in the business of making money off him and are using their
political power to suppress the free culture of which he would be
proud. The government trustees of the land, who once jailed Thoreau,
are now more interested in making money themselves instead of helping
to spread his message. Shame.
Teachers and librarians and ordinary citizens need to master new
technology and use it for appropriate purposes. We can use these
tools to further our culture. But we can't do so if we are
threatened with arrest for giving away "Walden." I am having
difficulty getting invitations to schools and libraries for the
Bookmobile; I wonder why. Learn about the Internet Archive
Bookmobile at http://www.archive.org/texts/bookmobile.php
The book I wanted to give away is formatted at
(or .doc) (It works best if you
have Baskerville Old Face font--sorry, I wasn't able to save a good
PDF version from OpenOffice.)
If you would like the Internet Bookmobile to visit so you can make
your own free copies of "Walden," or one of the 25,000 other free
books on the Internet, or your own custom book, please invite me
to your site. If it's legal to do so.
35 Manchester Rd #11A-210
Derry, NH 03038
+1 603 434 7746
Jul 12, 2004 4:51am
Re: Free Walden
well, no, I didn't ask government permission to print "Walden." The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says there should be no law restricting freedom of speech and press.
I spoke with the Thoreau Society president beforehand and she was not opposed to the idea but
wouldn't give me permission to park the Bookmobile on state reservation property and give away copies.
Thoreau's works are in the public domain. His ideas are often rude and demonstrative. Probably no government would approve of them if they understood them. I am not interested in taking money away from the Thoreau Society. They have enough members who are living off his reputation. But I think they should not have a state-enforced monopoly on "Walden," nor on Walden Pond, the publicly-owned park at which I chose to publish.
What would Thoreau have done?
I am consulting with lawyers whether to file a suit if my request for a permit to publish is denied.
You can invite the Internet Bookmobile to your site by replying to this message.